Cruising with a dog(s) - lessons learned - country by country experience
   
Country What we found Helpful stuff
Before you start Take your pet to a vet and get a titer test done for rabies.  You must first vaccinate your pet against rabies, and then after one month or more take your pet in for a titer test.  This blood work then goes off to Kansas State for the titer test to be done, and it can take a while (one to 3 months) for the results to come back.  You will want the results mailed to your vet, and you will need the hard copy of the results to take with you once you leave.   This paperwork is the FAVN report.   You will also need a microchip for your dog, one accepted internationally, and a rabies certificate, which you will get with the shot.  You will also need a "United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination form".  Most vets should know this form and be able to fill it out.  - Call around and make sure your find a vet that knows the form.  There is a spot on the forms for a USDA Vet to stamp the form.  We did not have this done - because we did not realize it.  If it is not too difficult to get this stamp, you should.    Please get your pet inoculated against all common diseases, and make sure you have a stock of medicine for Heartworm and fleas and ticks.  We found Triflexis to be a good med for our dogs.  We used a tick collar until we got to St. Martin, and then we used Certifect in combination with it for ticks.  It would also be a good idea to get some I.D. tags for your dog, with your boat name on it.   
The Bahamas The Bahamas does a good job, except for on speed.   You need an import permit in advance to take a pet to the Bahamas.  Apply for one very early, as it will be mailed or faxed to you for an additional charge.  I am talking like 4 months early.  Get a international money order from a post office, and send the money order and the import form to the Bahamas.  They will send back the permit.  Take the permit to a vet, with your pet and get an international health certificate for the pet.  Have the vet write in as much information on vaccines and treatments as you can.  MAKE SURE THEY STAMP IT IN THE USDA VET AREA, OR SIGN IT.  Call and check around to find a vet who is familiar with the forms and has the authority to stamp it.  The BVI's will check for this, as will Antigua.
In all honesty, I don't know how the Bahamas would ever know if you had an import permit or not.  We were never asked, never checked.  There are many, many stray dogs all over the Bahamas, so always have your pet leashed.  Be aware that dogs as pets, that are not used for guarding is not common in the Bahamas, so expect some people to be afraid of your dog, if it is larger, especially kids and be courteous to this.
Bahamas Import Application
Turks and Caicos Per noonsite the Turks and Caicos only requires a health certificate and rabies vaccination.    There was no where on the form to indicate a pet when we arrived, and no one asked, so we did not say anything.  There were many many many stray dogs in the Turks and Caicos - many is very sad shape.  
Dominican Republic I can only speak to checking in and out of the Dominican Republic while we were a guest of the Marina Puerto Bahia in Samana.  I was a- little concerned after reading noonsite, but reality was much different.   Customs and Immigration and the Navy all came on the boat, after making sure our dog would not attack them - they were all very leery of him.  They petted him and that was it.  Did not ask for any paperwork or anything.    I would think that this is pretty common, and would not hesitate to take a pet to Luperon or Ocean World or Samana.  I would not do the south coast of the Dominican Republic for different reasons.  
Puerto Rico We checked in to Puerto Rico in Mayaguez by phone and then in person.  On the phone they asked if we had a pet, and we said yes.  They asked if we had all the proper paperwork - again we said yes.  That was it.  Later in person nothing was asked.  We were concerned, as per noonsite, the health certificate had to be less than two weeks old, but there was not a vet available for the past two weeks before arriving in Puerto Rico.  We have found that most pets arriving on cruising boats are treated much differently than pets arriving by air.  
U.S. Virgin Islands If you are an American citizen, you don't need to check in here if arriving from Puerto Rico, so we didn't.  You should visit a vet here and get a new health certificate before going to the B.V.I's - see BVI's.  
British Virgin Islands You must send your import paperwork into the BVI's in advance.   We used a email/fax service and would email and fax the paperwork in.  You MUST have your FAVN report to bring a pet into the BVI's.  They will check for this and the Health Certificate and will make sure that the Health Certificate is no older than two weeks.   Although we sent our paperwork 4 days ahead of time, they remembered seeing it, but did not have it with them, and they had never sent anything back to us saying we were approved, so we had to fill it out again while the vet waited.   We checked in at West End Tortolla, and found the vet very nice.  We did not have a health certificate that was less than two weeks old, and he let us in anyway.    Cost for dog was $10.   Before leaving the BVI and heading to St. Martin, we got a new health certificate from the vet - it cost $10, and took 5 minutes.  We thought we would need this for St. Martin.

On the way north it was a totally different story.   Since we had faxed the paperwork in ahead of time before and never had a response and we ended up having to fill it in again, we did not send anything in ahead of time, but just took the filled in paperwork with us.  We arrived at Gun Creek in Virgin Gorda and were given the phone number of the vet to call for inspection.  We arranged the inspection for the next morning.  In this inspection everything was fine, except we were charged $50 for a penalty for not having pre-approval to come to the BVI's by faxing the paperwork in ahead of time.  This time the vet did not care about the FAVN or health certificate, but only wanted to see the rabies vaccination.

I would advise having all the paperwork and  faxing or emailing the application in.  Clearly there is no consistency in the BVI's so be prepared for anything. Don't expect to hear back, after you send stuff in, but maybe you will get lucky and hear something.  Either way, you will pay $10 for check in or $60 for check in and penalty.
Import form for BVI's - note email is incorrect on this form
Import form and instructions with correct email address
Anguilla We did not stop here.  
St. Martin We checked in in Marigot.  There was nothing on the form that asked about pets, and the fellow checking us in did not ask.  He saw us standing there with our dog on the leash when he let us in the office and said nothing.  
St. Maarten We did not check in here, but did get a new Health Certificate from a vet, and the vet also recommended the new tick medicine because he knew Antigua would want that - and he was right.  He gave us a new health certificate and a pet passport.  He also did a stool sample to make sure the dog was free from internal parasites, so take one in with you.  Total cost for meds, exam and paperwork was $166.

On the way north we stopped and got a new health certificate for preparation for the BVI's.  Cost was $30
We used the Animal Hospital of St. Maarten.  It is at 1377 Union Road about a .6 mile walk from Island Water World dinghy dock.  There phone number is 721-544-4111
Antigua We email and faxed our paperwork in ahead of time.  We called 48 hours ahead of time as well.  They vet was out and the person on the phone said she would make sure he had the paperwork.  We faxed it in again.  We never got an import permit.  We checked in at Jolly Harbor per the Dept. of Agriculture recommendation, they said that it was closest to the vet.  When you check in, there is a section on the form for livestock - they consider a pet "livestock".   Customs and Immigration will call the vet, he will come to the office to check your paperwork and animal.  It is easiest on the vet if you bring your vessel to the dock right by Customs and Immigration and tie up there.  We did this and it was great because after clearing in, we walked through the small shopping area, before leaving the dock.  The vet will look for your FAVN titer results, when your rabies vaccinations were, he will scan the animal to verify the correct microchip identification matches the paperwork, and will look to make sure the pet as been treated for external and internal parasites.  Contrary to the information online, he did not say anything about import paperwork, and he did not care about the health certificate from St. Maarten, or the BVI's, he just wanted to see the one from the United States, which was out of date, but he didn't seem to care.  There was a $50 fee for checking in our dog. Antigua Import Requirements per website
Dept of Agriculture phone:  1-268-7592 or 1-268-1814  fax number is 1-268-460-1759
Guadeloupe On the Guadeloupe customs form that you fill in on a computer yourself, there was no space for "pets" or "livestock".  We did nothing, and walked Sam every day, no one said anything or asked for anything.  
Les Saintes Since we came from Guadeloupe we did not have to check in again.  We walked Sam around town a lot, and nothing ever said.  
Dominica Before coming into Dominica I was worried, as per their requirements.  I emailed the agriculture dept, using the email posted here, and in the response I was told that I would have to have a health certificate from my last port.  Since the last port was Les Saintes, and I don't speak French and could not find a vet I was worried.   I explained this via email and Dr. Thomas who answered my email was very cooperative and said that they would work with me on this and to send what paperwork I had.  I emailed in all I had, and had a permit emailed back to me within 3 days.  Excellent service and very cooperative.   On the permit it said that the animal would be accompanied by a health certificate stating that the animal had completed a quarantine, which of course it had not. (see sample permit via link on right).  When we arrived in Dominica, there was a spot on the customs form for a pet, which we checked, but they did not say anything.  When we went to walk Sam, we were stopped on the dock by an official and were asked for our paperwork.   We showed them the import permit and they were not sure, so they called the boss and asked them and were told that the stamped permit was all that was needed.    We were also stopped by a local resident who warned us about dogs needing paperwork, or they would be taken.  We were told by the PAYS representative who came to our boat as well.
A park ranger also asked to see the dogs paperwork.      That said, people we met on another boat, had no paperwork, but were stopped.  A vet was called and an inspection done of the pet - I don't know if they had any support paperwork on rabies and FAVN test, but they paid $50 U.S. and were allowed in.  I would recommend getting the permit in advance, as it is free and quite easy.

On the way north we applied ahead of time for the permit.   We used the health certificate we got before we left Grenada.   They wanted us to get one from the last port visited, and we explained we did not speak French and the last port was Martinique.   The import permit was given to us anyway.    When we arrived we declared the dog on the Customs and Immigration form, and no questions asked, however when we took our dog ashore at the government dock by Customs and Immigration we were stopped and told we need a vet inspection, and were not allowed to bring the dog ashore.  Another cruiser had a similar experience while walking the dog in town they were accosted and harassed by a person identifying themselves as a vet technician, who berated them, and then issued them the vet inspection permit, without actually doing any examination or even looking at the pet.   They did have a valid import permit as well.    I have contacted the Agriculture department regards the experiences and they were once again very concerned and were going to look into the issue.  My advice - get the import permit, and when you check in, get customs or immigration to call and get a vet to come inspect your pet.  If your are told it is not required, then get the name of the person who told you that, and keep their name, and your import permit with you at all times when you take your dog ashore.
forestvet@gmail.com
Dominica pet requirements

Dominica import permit
Martinique No where on check in is asked about pets.  We took dog into town, no hassles, no forms, no fees.  
Saint Lucia We sent in the paperwork to St. Lucia early and a stamped import form was sent back, so we did not bother to get a health certificate from Martinique.  Upon arrival in St. Lucia, Customs asked if we had seen the vet.  We said that we had a stamped import permit for St. Lucia.  They said, didn't matter, had to see the vet and called the vet.  We were told to wait at the dinghy dock for the vet with our dog, and the vet would arrive at 2:30.  It was hot, so instead of waiting in the dinghy at the dock, we waited under the shade of a tree 20' from the head of the dinghy dock.  Customs came by and made sure we did not take the dog any further, and let us know that the dog really should not be out of the dinghy.  At 3:45 the vet arrived at the dinghy dock, and also let us know that the dog should not be out of the dinghy, but understood about shade.  She wanted the health certificate from Martinique.  We explained we did not have one.  She checked all the other paperwork, and said we were OK, because we had the rabies vaccination paperwork, but should have had the health certificate from Martinique.   The requirements for import to St. Lucia states the dog must be given treatment for parasites 72 hours before arriving in St. Lucia.  We did not do that, since we did not go to a vet in Martinique, but the vet in St. Lucia did not even comment on that.   Checking in our dog cost $45 EC, and the vet did not have change, so make sure you have the exact amount.

On the way north, we did not bother to apply for the permit ahead of time.  We should have.  When we got there, the vet would not come unless we had the permit.  We emailed in the stuff, and the permit was issued same day, then we arranged to meet the vet at 9:00 a.m. in the morning.  This time the vet was 45 minutes late.   We were inspected, the original of the permit given to us and a reciept.    We were asked twice while walking around the marina area for the dogs paperwork by a customs/immigration representative.   We took the dog to the dock area by the grocery stores, and walked him there and were never asked for paperwork.
Requirements for import to St. Lucia

St. Lucia email for questions and import permit:    vlsdsec.agriculture@govt.lc


Import permit application

Fax number for import permit and questions:
1-758-450-4581
St. Vincent We did not plan on staying long in St. Vincent, so did not bother checking the dog in.  We we spoke to the vet in St. Lucia on check in, she said it was not difficult to do the paperwork for a dog going to St. Vincent, and she had just done one, but we chose not to pursue it.  We had read that we would have to take the dog to the south end of St. Vincent for the vet to check the dog, and then go check the boat in elsewhere - don't know as we did not bother.  If anyone has current information, please email us and let us know.  
Grenada We obtained a import permit in advance.  On the permit it does say to have a current health certificate done within 2 weeks of arriving, and to notify the Government Veterinary Official 48 hours before arriving.  We did neither based on other cruisers experience.  We checked in at Carriacou, and checked the form that we had a dog.  Customs and Immigration did not care, and did not say anything.  We have taken the dog ashore several times, and nothing has been said. 
We took our dog to the St. George's University Small Animal Clinic.  They can be reached at 473-435-2900.  They did the blood draw to send to Kansas State for the dog rabies titer test.  They said it takes two months, so if you spend hurricane season near Grenada, and plan on going back north through the Caribbean, this is a good place to get your FAVN, titer test done.
email for Veterinary division is: livestockdivision@hotmail.com

Import permit application
Trinidad and Tobago We went, but they have very strict laws.   We declared the dog at customs and immigration.  While at a marina, we took our dog for a short walk onshore only in the fenced haulout yard area, early in the morning.  We later anchored by TTSA, and never took the dog ashore.  
We started cruising in July of 2011 with two dogs aboard.  Oso, our Alaskan Malamute, and Sam, our mixed breed border collie / beagle / German Sheppard  ?

Oso and Sam were all over the Bahamas.  Oso died from old age, and only Sam travelled with us through the rest of the Caribbean.  We did the Bahamas in 2011 and 2012 returning to the states in-between.  In 2013 we continued on to the Caribbean.

I tried to do as much research as possible on what the requirements were for each country and make sure we had the proper paperwork for the dogs.  I used the www.noonsite.com website which has a section on pets, and also used www.dogfriendly.com.   In short, they are both helpful, but not necessarily what we found to be true.

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